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The oldest age group listed is for 100- to 104-year-olds, but the rules say anyone older wanting to compete will be accommodated.

The Bozeman Masters Swim Club is hosting the Montana Masters State Championship Swim Meet at the end of the month. Swimmers aged 18 and above will compete in 23 individual and relay races. Spectators are welcome.

Although it’s called a championship, it’s an open meet that does not require a qualifying time, according to a news release. The meet is scheduled for Feb. 29 and March 1 at the Bozeman Swim Center.

Phillip Luebke with Bozeman Masters Swim Club said that while it’s important for participants to know whether they are physically fit enough to compete, nobody should be too intimidated to sign up.

“It’s a fun meet. Everyone is very welcoming and they encourage people to become a part of it,” Luebke said.

The Bozeman club is a U.S. Masters Swimming program, a nonprofit that encourages all ages and abilities to swim. Some people join to train for competitions and others participate for exercise. The Bozeman club offers three coached practices weekly for members and helps organize events like the upcoming championship.

Luebke said the meet will likely see between 75 and 125 competitors. The heats for each race are organized only by time, meaning genders and ages are mixed.

This kind of diversity in competition is what keeps Charlotte Sanddal coming back to the meet. Sanddal, 97, has been a part of Helena Ridley Masters Swimmers for 25 years and said the state championship is a fun event.

“I go to see people. I’m not that fast a swimmer to keep up with the younger people, but they are always so encouraging,” Sanddal said.

Sanddal may not be as fast as a competitive 18-year-old, but she does pretty well.

She holds nine U.S. Masters Swimming records and dozens of regional and state records for her age group. She plans to compete in the mile in Bozeman. The race does not have a national record-holder for 95 to 99 year-olds, meaning she’ll likely take that title next.

Sanddal began swimming after she retired from her job as a clinical social worker at 72. She trains four or five times per week and takes a different exercise class the other two days.

But Sanddal reiterated that the Bozeman meet is for anyone interested, not just record-breakers like herself.

“You don’t have to be fast or fancy, they just want to see you come and enjoy yourself. And it’s good to challenge yourself,” Sanddal said.

Registration for the meet closes Friday at midnight. Volunteers are needed to help time the races. More information can be found at bozemanmasters.org.

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Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2607.

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